Notes from the TEFL Graveyard

Wistful reflections, petty glories.

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Location: The House of Usher, Brazil

I'm a flailing TEFL teacher who entered the profession over a decade ago to kill some time whilst I tried to find out what I really wanted to do. I like trying to write comedy (I once got to the semi-finals of a BBC Talent competition, ironically writing a sitcom based on TEFL), whilst trying to conquer genetically inherited procrastination... I am now based in Brazil, where I live with my wife and two chins.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

I AM OFFICIALLY A TIT

Show recently extracted the wind from my sails with typically well-intentioned down-to-earthism. Armed with several diagrams and a kitchen knife, she extolled her opinion that I should concentrate on doing what I can do and stop fannying around trying to learn how to do things I can’t, in yet another feeble-minded attempt to divorce myself from TEFL. Yet again, I believe her to be right.

It all started back in May, when I went to Poland with my male voice choir and on the plane to Frankfurt found myself sitting next to Jetro, one of our second tenors.

I’d never really spoken to him before, but during the trip I discovered that he ran a small yet growing Internet company, an online system through which owners of used car dealerships could manage their businesses. He explained how previously he’d been something of a factotum, working around the country in various jobs and starting various businesses, until he discovered that he could neither work for somebody nor manage others – leaving him no option but to work alone.

Casting aside these ominous sociopathic leanings, I became fascinated with the idea of running an Internet business. I had visions of getting a site up and running, then sitting back and watching my bank balance swell to extraordinary proportions.

I played down the significance of his confessions that he really needed this break, as he was near breaking point with all the stress of running the business. A complete novice at web development, he’d recently employed a young programmer who knew much more than him, and who’d one day blocked all the users’ passwords in a crude attempt to blackmail him.

In Poland, he persistently badgered the locals to allow him Internet access, so that he could check his email every 30 minutes and answer the many support requests that derived from the shaky architecture of his site. Of everybody on the trip, he was probably the one that relaxed and enjoyed himself the least, a fact I managed to conveniently overlook.

Undeterred by these revelations, over the past few months I’ve been attempting, yet again, to learn how to design complex websites. And quite honestly I’ve had enough. I’ve bought videos by a likeable Aussie from the Internet. I’ve spent a good part of most days hunched over my laptop, face screwed up in constant discombobulation. When I do actually manage to understand how to do something, I immediately forget the fucking syntax, meaning I have to trawl through endless reference pages to enlighten myself yet again.

I’ve become obsessive and irritable and constantly distracted by trying to solve programming issues. I’ve become distant and preoccupied – ladies and gentlemen, I have become the nearest thing a tit can get to a geek.

Web development is like a pox-raddled strumpet that I keep returning to, in the unlikely hope that she'll magically turn into someone I can introduce to my mother. No more! TEFL is the life for me. And translation.

2009 - no more waving, only drowning.

16 Comments:

Blogger scarlet-blue said...

Well... if you really do get stuck, I do know someone...
And hell, I am a raddled strumpet....
Sx

8 January 2009 at 14:07  
Blogger scarlet-blue said...

P.S Where has the map gone? I don't know where I am... last time I came here I was in Cardiff, which was hugely amusing. I know you've explained all this to me but you know how it is...
Sx

8 January 2009 at 14:11  
Blogger M C Ward said...

I removed all the excess widgets, gadgets, fidgets, etc in a move towards minimalism, which is the new ostentation, innit.

8 January 2009 at 15:22  
Blogger Hayley said...

I stumbled across your blog after googling 'tefl tits'. I used to joke with a former colleague that we'd make a calendar under this name and was just curious, trying to make a mock glamour shoot without Photoshop and using a mac (?) and it's the first tefl blog I've found other than my own. So when I have the patience and a cuppa I'm going to enjoy reading yours methinks.

8 January 2009 at 16:35  
Blogger The TEFL Tradesman said...

'Tit' is a touch severe, I'd say. More like 'Twat', or 'Plonker' even - but never a tit!

8 January 2009 at 17:07  
Blogger M C Ward said...

Hayley - welcome to the Graveyard, grab yourself a Special Brew and join the merry throng.

Tradesman - I'll take that as a compliment, I think.

8 January 2009 at 20:52  
Blogger Gadjo Dilo said...

Ah, I was wondering where you'd been, MC. I also tried my hand at website design last year, and it was probably barely more than adequate, if that. No luck with technical writing then?

9 January 2009 at 04:56  
Blogger No Good Boyo said...

It's taken me months to upgrade my blogger site to the most recent (therefore ancient) template, so I can't even imagine embarking on anything so baroque as design.

I may have mentioned somewhere that a typically unwordly Polish bookworm colleague was sent on a Dreamweaver course by a manager desperate to add something to the fellow's "personal development" appraisal box.

The Pole blinked in horror as some plastic idiot rambled on about html code or whatever, then turned to his neighbour and sighed "Thees ees not my wooorld!"

I spent Xmas and the New Year sitting back and watching my gut swell to extraordinary proportions, but a dose of lurgy soon took care of that. It's better than beef tapeworm, ladies.

10 January 2009 at 10:25  
Blogger M C Ward said...

Gadjo, I've been trying my hand at translation, which I quite enjoy and which I seem capable of. Writing in English is much easier for me than Português. Apologies to all for my absence from your respective comments pages.

Boyo, your Polish colleague hit the nail on the head. If there's one thing that could drive me to suicide, it would have to be "tableless CSS" - a Cascading Style Sheet that attempt to layout a webpage without using HTML tables. No two browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc) show the pages the same way, so you have to spend large chunks of your precious lifespan hacking around trying to get it to work. No amount of money... (I know you're sleeping by now)

10 January 2009 at 12:50  
Blogger Gadjo Dilo said...

No need to apologise old chap! I love translation too but I never managed to get any real work at it. You're right about the browser differences, but apparantly that's all part of the fun ;-)

12 January 2009 at 03:32  
Blogger Special Brew Man said...

keep the faith - I´ve set myself this year as the one to get out, if I don´t I´m gonna become a farmer in Argentina...all becuasue of this article

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/3325192/The-slavery-of-teaching-English.html

12 January 2009 at 08:16  
Blogger Julian Meteor said...

I would LOVE to run my own business. A website for female escorts where I get to 'test out'* (if you know what I mean, say no more!!!! rofl) all the potential applicants.



*have SEX with them!!!

12 January 2009 at 10:32  
Blogger M C Ward said...

Thanks for that, Special, I'd read it before, but I'd forgotten where - it's so apt that I've made a link to it.

Julian, you're clearly a man with a knack for business - why you're unemployed is a mystery.

12 January 2009 at 11:44  
Blogger KALINAGO ENGLISH said...

Ha, ha.

My ears hear you and my eyes painfully confess to going through the same journey.

My heart's not interested and am plodding on.

You're on the blogroll, will enjoy visiting.

Yours, another TwIT (I decided this was a better acronym for teachers who Teach with Information Technology.)

Karenne

16 January 2009 at 13:05  
Blogger M C Ward said...

Welcome, Karenne, and my commiserations. I couldn't stand the feeling of being a hamster on a wheel constantly trying to catch up with how to program the latest technologies. Life's too short!

20 January 2009 at 11:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

Please can you get in touch, I've got a quick question about your blog.

Also please don't publish this (to keep my email address away from spammers).

Thanks

Lloyd
lloyd.cooke@i-to-i.com

24 January 2009 at 11:35  

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